The business benefits of a mentoring program

By Jan Murray on

Today's job seekers will consider several different workplace perks and benefits, not just financial renumeration, before deciding whether to accept a job or if to stay in a role.

For people who are in the early part of their career, having a mentor can have a profound and positive effect on how they grow and develop as professionals. Providing a mentoring program proves to employees that their employer values them and wants to invest in their future with the business.

The importance of doing this is underlined by the fact that according to the 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey, millennials planning to stay with their employer for more than five years are twice as likely to have a mentor than not.

It is a sad reality that many industries and businesses lose their most senior people to retirement or redundancy in the name of cost savings. What is often overlooked is the vast wealth of wisdom and intellectual property that walks out of the door with that senior person. Setting up a mentoring program to harness this knowledge and experience to help guide and nurture the next generation could make a huge difference to the business.

Employee mentoring programs can enable you to get more from your most valuable resource, your employees. Enhancing the development of the talent you already have through a mentoring program could lead to a wealth of business benefits, including company growth, increased innovation and higher profits.

Mentoring programs are a win-win for all concerned:

  • Enables recruits to settle into their job faster,
  • Boosts productivity,
  • Promotes company growth and increased profits,
  • Encourages innovation,
  • Increases employee job satisfaction levels
  • Lowers turnover rates and improved engagement
  • Streamlines knowledge sharing to ensure employees are performing optimally
  • Helps develop leadership skills and plays a vital role in succession planning,
  • Enhances the development of soft skills
  • Bridges the generation gap between senior managers and newer recruits

What does mentoring involve?

A mentoring program pairs an employee with established knowledge, skill sets, and experience with another employee who is looking for guidance to do their job and consequently develop skills for their career. There is often a misconception that mentoring is mainly focussed on helping more junior employees, but in reality mentoring can be beneficial at all career levels, no matter how high you climb up the ranks of an organisation you can still always benefit from the knowledge, experience and perspectives of other colleagues.

The biggest difference between a mentorship program and a formal learning and development program is that mentoring programs work towards building a relationship between the mentee and mentor, with both parties gaining from the engagement.

What does a successful employee mentoring program look like?

Step 1
Define the purpose and objectives of the program, for example improving employee retention and employee satisfaction, facilitating knowledge transfer or building an emerging leadership pipeline etc. This will determine the structure you need to put in place to produce the results you're after.
Step 2
Promote participation at all levels. It's important to drive support for your program from the top down. Executives and management should encourage their direct reports, teams and departments to participate as either mentors or mentees by being vocal about why they think the program is beneficial.
Step 3
Matching. A key element of any successful employee mentoring program is the pairing process. Identify the key matching criteria such as skills, expertise, location etc., and how the matching process will take place; will matching be done by admin or on a self-service basis.
Step 4
Training and Guidance. Getting a good match is only the first step in developing an effective mentoring relationship. Providing training and guidance on how to identify issues that need to be addressed as part of the process, setting goals to work towards and how to give and receive constructive feedback are all key parts of the process.
Step 5
Review and Evaluate. An effective mentoring program should have metrics and assessments in place to enable you to track engagement and ensure it remains impactful and aligned with your business goals.

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